Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
|Xie Zhenhua at the UN climate change conference, December 2008|
A high-powered group of senior Republicans and Democrats led two missions to China in the final months of the Bush administration for secret backchannel negotiations aimed at securing a deal on joint US-Chinese action on climate change.
The initiative, involving John Holdren, now the White House science adviser, and others who went on to positions in Barack Obama’s administration, produced a draft agreement in March, barely two months after the Democrat assumed the presidency…
“My sense is that we are now working towards something in the fall,” said Bill Chandler, director of the energy and climate programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the driving force behind the talks. “It will be serious. It will be substantive, and it will happen.”
John Holdren, head of White House science office
Daylife/Washington Post/Newsweek used by permission
The secret missions suggest that advisers to Obama came to power firmly focused on getting a US-China understanding in the run-up to the crucial UN meeting in Copenhagen this December, which is aimed at sealing a global deal to slash greenhouse gas emissions. In her first policy address the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she wanted to recast the broad US-China relationship around the central issue of climate change. She also stopped in Beijing on her first foreign tour…
The first communications, in the autumn of 2007, were initiated by the Chinese. Xie Zhenhua, the vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s central economic planning body, made the first move by expressing interest in a co-operative effort on carbon capture and storage and other technologies with the US…
Taiya Smith, an adviser on China to Bush’s treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, who was at the first of the two sessions, said: “The thing that came out of it that was priceless was the recognition on both sides that what China was doing to [reduce] the effects of climate change were not very well known,” she said. “After these discussions was a real public campaign by the Chinese government to try to make people aware of what they were doing. We started to see the Chinese take a different tone which was that ‘we are active and engaged in trying to solve the problem’.”
RTFA. A good deal we haven’t heard about before. Seems clear the Chinese expected the same election results many activists did. And in 2007 and 2008, it was possible to get a bipartisan working group together from the United States – for bilateral talks.
No surprise that some of the folks taking part in those discussions ended up in Obama’s administration.